IUCN Red List - 50 Fascinating Facts
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Celebrating 50 years of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™
2. 50 FASCINATING FACTSThere are currently 828 species classified as Extinct on The IUCN Red List of ThreatenedSpeciesTM. An example of a recently extinct species is the Lesser Bilby (Macrotis leucura), asmall marsupial that was endemic to the deserts of central Australia. It has not been located9since the last specimen was collected in 1931. Aboriginal records indicate populations possiblysurvived into the 1960s, but there is no evidence that the species still persists. Predation fromintroduced cats and foxes, competition with rabbits for food, as well as habitat degradation arethought to have caused the animal’s extinction. Below is an illustration of the Lesser Bilby, nextto a photograph of its extant relative, the Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis), listed as Vulnerable.© R. Hucke-Gaete (CBA UACH) 3. 50 FASCINATING FACTSThe Critically Endangered Franklin’s Bumble Bee (Bombus franklini) is restricted tonorthern California and southern Oregon. Its numbers have decreased precipitouslysince 1998 and the species may now be extinct. The commercialization of some11bumblebee species for greenhouse crops in North America over the past two decades is thoughtto have caused a pathogen spillover that has devastated wild populations. Habitat loss andwidespread pesticide use as a result of agricultural intensification further endanger the future ofbumblebees and other crucial pollinators globally.© Pete Schroeder 4. 50 FASCINATING FACTSThere are 32 animal species currently classified as Extinct in the Wild on The IUCN RedList. This includes Scimitar-horned Oryx (Oryx dammah), Père David’s Deer (Elaphurusdavidianus) and Wyoming Toad (Anaxyrus baxteri). Thirty-one of these species are12actively bred in zoos, aquariums and other animal propagation facilities, which prevent theiroutright extinction. All existing populations of Scimitar-horned Oryx (pictured left) are maintainedin fenced enclosures of varying sizes and are subject to different degrees of management. Allpopulations of Père David’s Deer (pictured right) are still under captive management; the captivepopulation in China has increased in recent years, and the possibility remains that free-rangingpopulations can be established in the near future.© Blake Matheson© Brent Huffman (Ultimate Ungulate) 5. 50 FASCINATING FACTSStaghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) is listed as Critically Endangered on The IUCNRed List. The species has declined by more than 80% over the past 30 years due todisease, climate change, and other anthropogenic factors. Staghorn coral is particularly15susceptible to ‘bleaching’, a response to environmental stress. Most reef-building corals containsymbiotic zooxanthellae, single-celled algae that supply the coral with nutrients derived fromphotosynthesis. Bleaching occurs when zooxanthellae are expelled and/or the algal pigmentsare degraded, giving the coral a white or pale appearance.© J E N Veron 6. 50 FASCINATING FACTSDid you know? Despite being considereda pest species in areas where it has beenintroduced (in purple), the European Rabbit16(Oryctolagus cuniculus) is classified as Near Threatenedon The IUCN Red List. European Rabbit populations in theirnatural range (in yellow) have declined by an estimated95% since 1950, and by 80% in Spain since 1975, due todisease, habitat loss, and human-induced mortality. Thislarge decline has detrimentally affected the predators thatdepend on the rabbit, such as the Critically EndangeredIberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus), of which only 84-143 adultsremain in the wild.© JJ Harrison© Iberian Lynx Ex-situ Conservation Programme/A.Rivas 7. 50 FASCINATING FACTSAll great apes (Hominidae) have been assessed on The IUCN Red List. Unfortunately,all but one species are either Endangered or Critically Endangered. Humans (Homosapiens) are the exception, being classified as Least Concern because of their wide17distribution, adaptability, and increasing population. Humans have the widest distribution of anyterrestrial mammal and live in a wide variety of habitats, largely thanks to their ability to usetechnology to adapt to and modify their environment. A small group of humans has even beenintroduced to space, where they inhabit the International Space Station.© NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center 8. 50 FASCINATING FACTSCycads are one of the most threatened taxonomic groups on the IUCN Red List:63% of cycad species are threatened with extinction. Cycas micronesica occurs inMicronesia, the Marianas Group and the western Caroline Islands. The species is18listed as Endangered because it has suffered huge declines across it range, largely due tohabitat loss and an introduced insect pest, the Cycad Aulacaspis Scale. Trade in C. micronesicais regulated through its listing on CITES Appendix II.© Thomas Marler 9. 50 FASCINATING FACTSAll commercial sea cucumbers have been assessed on the IUCN Red List. Theseanimals are harvested for Asian markets, where they are valued as food and traditionalmedicine. Warty Sea Cucumbers (Apostichopus parvimensis) are listed as Vulnerable19due to their 30-40% decline over the past 3 generation lengths as a result of overexploitation.Most impressively, they are able to regenerate lost body parts. When forcefully handled or whenexposed to environmental stress, they expel their internal organs and grow new ones.© Richard Ling / www.rling.com 10. 50 FASCINATING FACTSDid you know that Przewalski’s Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii), the only surviving wildhorse, used to be classified as Extinct in the Wild? Thanks to successful reintroductions,the species was downlisted to Endangered in 2011. It is now legally protected in20Mongolia and hunting has been prohibited since 1930. The entire reintroduced range in Mongoliais within protected areas and the species is listed on CITES Appendix I, which prohibits trade.© Daniela Hartmann 11. 50 FASCINATING FACTSThere are eight species of pangolin in the world, four in Asia and four in Africa. In2014, the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group re-assessed all eight species for theIUCN Red List, which confirmed that all pangolins are now threatened with extinction.21Pangolins are one of the most poached animals, largely due to demand for the Asian marketwhere their meat is considered a delicacy and their scales are used in traditional medicine.Pictured is a Ground Pangolin (Smutsia temminckii), listed as Vulnerable.© Scott & Judy Hurd www.h4urd.co.uk 12. 50 FASCINATING FACTSEverybody knows about tigers, lions, andother big cats, but did you know that mostwild felids are small cats? Many of these22fascinating and understudied smaller cousins are indanger of extinction but small cats receive less than1% of the total conservation funding for wild cats! Liketheir larger relatives, small cats are threatened by lossof habitat and prey, poaching, and conflict with humansand livestock. Pictured are (clockwise from top): theEndangered Flat-headed Cat (Prionailurus planiceps),the Endangered Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita), andthe Vulnerable Guiña (Leopardus guigna).© Jim Sanderson & Fernando Vidal© Jim Sanderson© Jim Sanderson 13. 50 FASCINATING FACTSSpot the geckos! Leaf-tailed geckos in the genus Uroplatus are masters of camouflageendemic to Madagascar and surrounding islands. All 14 described Uroplatus specieshave been assessed for the IUCN Red List, which revealed that half of them are23threatened with extinction, mainly due to ongoing destruction of their forest habitat. Unfortunately,leaf-tailed geckos are also harvested for the international pet trade.© David d’O© muzzanese© Frank Vassen © Frank Vassen
- 1. 50 FASCINATING FACTSIn the 2013 Red List update,the Red-cockaded Woodpecker(Leuconotopicus borealis) was8downlisted from Vulnerable to NearThreatened, thanks to successfulconservation efforts including habitatmanagement, nest-site provision, andtranslocation of birds by the US Fish andWildlife Service. It inhabits fire-sustainedopen pine forest, nests in cavities of livingold-growth trees (100+ years old) and laysits eggs from late April to early June.© Tim Benson